Gender Balance in the Workplace

Some employers have a major gender diversity problem on their hands. The obstacles to building truly diverse and inclusive work forces is overwhelming. There’s no easy, global approach to intentional hiring. Every organization has its own short-term talent needs, long-term strategic goals, and entrenched institutional culture. But your company is likely to benefit from at least some of the intentional hiring strategies outlined here.

Diversity in Role Models – Your workforce’s gender balance might not yet be where it needs to be, but your company surely has diverse role models—including, hopefully, women technologists in senior or leadership roles.

Make no bones about giving these inspiring women a soapbox, or at least lending them deserved professional visibility. Invite them to recruiting events, share their stories on your website and in promotional literature, and invite them to pen forthright posts discussing the personal challenges they’ve faced in their careers and the structural problems impeding workplace equity in STEM fields. If they turn a critical lens back on your organization, all the better—candidates, especially millennials, value transparency and don’t expect perfection (yet).

Redefine Your “Ideal” Personality – On-the-job expectations can be just as problematic as loaded job descriptions, even if they’re never explicitly stated or acknowledged. Like job descriptions, expectations amplify deep-seated, often unconscious biases that men and women share.

These biases typically follow problematic stereotypes about both genders—for instance, that women are submissive and should put family above career, so they’re penalized for stepping out and looked down upon for successfully balancing child-rearing with executive responsibilities, or simply not hired at all on the assumption that they’ll leave the workforce once they have children.

Occasionally, these biases morph into something uglier, as women in male-dominated workplaces face intense pressure to remain silent in the face of misogyny or outright harassment—and often face retaliation when they fail to do so. Hiring managers and others in positions of authority—men and women alike—must do their part to keep these biases from corrupting their judgment and impartiality.

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